De-stress and Protect Your Oral Health

During these times of change and uncertainty, it’s only natural to feel stressed out. After all, we’ve all been thrust into staying at home and figuring out our new, temporary norm. Your dentist in Reno understands. We’re in this together, and we’d like to help by talking about how stress can affect your oral health while also providing you a few tips on how you can lower your stress during stressful times.

How Our Bodies React to Stress
Stress affects different people in different ways, and what happens to one person may not happen to another. Knowing that, let’s take a look at some of the ways our oral health tends to respond to stress.

  • Teeth Clenching & Grinding – One of the most common correlations between stress and oral health is our body’s often subconscious response to clench and grind our teeth. Most of the time, we may not even know we’re doing these things until we start to experience the side effects. The pressure of repeated teeth-on-teeth clenching can be too much for our teeth and may lead to some serious concerns including chipped, cracked, broken, or worn down teeth. But that’s not all. Constant clenching or grinding can put unnatural stress on our jaw joint and jaw muscles, which can cause jaw pain and the development of TMJ disorder. TMJ disorder and jaw pain can often be treated successfully, so if you recognize any clicking or popping in the jaw joint, jaw pain, or occasional jaw locking call your dentist in Reno.*
  • Gum Disease – Gum disease is a serious oral health problem that can contribute to other whole-body health concerns such as the increased risk of heart disease, kidney disease, respiratory disease, and some cancers. Usually, gum disease is a result of inadequate oral hygiene, not seeing your dentist regularly, or tobacco use. However, recent studies have also shown a connection between increased stress and the occurrence of gum disease. Gum disease can be treated if caught early, so if you notice bleeding gums, bad breath that doesn’t go away, or swollen, painful gums, see your dentist.

De-Stress to Protect
Your dentist in Reno wants to encourage you to try different things to help you de-stress, for your overall health, mental health, and yes, your oral health. Some things you can try include:

  • Sleeping Well. Getting enough sleep is important to help lower stress and keep your overall body functioning well. Having trouble sleeping? Avoid blue light at least an hour before bed, listen to calming music or relaxing sounds, and keep a regular sleep schedule (yes, even on weekends).
  • Exercising Daily. Hop on the treadmill or stationary bike, go for a walk, do some yoga, but whatever you do, do some sort of exercise daily. Regular exercise naturally lowers stress by giving your body and brain a surge of endorphins, which make you feel happy and more relaxed.
  • Meditating. Believe it or not, simply focusing on your breath and practicing some deep breathing techniques can lower your heart rate and blood pressure and help you feel more relaxed. Look for a free app on your phone or videos online to help guide you through breathing exercises or full meditation sessions.

It’s more important now than ever before to work on decreasing stress levels. We hope some of the tips above help. As we’ve mentioned before, stress is different for everyone, and that also includes stress management. Try to find the method that works best for you.

*At the time of publishing, the ADA recommends that all preventive dental appointments and non-emergency consultations be postponed. Please check with your local regulations.

Dental Emergencies vs. Non-Emergencies

As of March 18, 2020, the American Dental Association has recommended a nationwide postponement of all elective dental procedures and encouraged dentists to provide emergency services only. But how do you determine the difference between a dental emergency and a non-emergency? The ADA is helping out there, too and released important information and guidance to help both you and your dentist in Reno during these unprecedented times. 

What Are Dental Emergencies?

According to the ADA, dental emergencies are “potentially life-threatening and require immediate treatment to stop ongoing tissue bleeding [or to] alleviate severe pain or infection.” The guide released to dentists back in March goes into even more detail to give specific examples of potential dental emergencies. Let’s take a look. 

  • Uncontrolled bleeding
  • Cellulitis or soft tissue infection with swelling that can affect breathing 
  • Trauma to facial bones that may reduce someone’s ability to breathe

Urgent Dental Care

There is also a subset of the ADA’s guidelines to emergency dental needs called urgent dental care. These problems may still require dental care quickly and include: 

  • Severe dental pain caused by pulpal inflammation
  • Third-molar pain
  • Tooth fractures with pain or resulting in soft tissue trauma
  • Post-op complications such as dry socket 
  • Abscess or localized bacterial infection with swelling
  • Dental trauma that results in a lost tooth 
  • Lost or broken temporary restoration or if a restoration is irritating the gum tissue

This is not an all-inclusive list of all dental emergencies that may require immediate treatment. Other situations may include defective restorations that cause pain, extensive cavities or decay that cause pain, needed adjustments to dental appliances when they aren’t functioning properly, or the replacement of temporary fillings where the patient is in pain. 

Non-Emergencies

At this time, dental offices are discouraged from having preventive, routine appointments or seeing patients with non-urgent needs such as: 

  • Initial consultation for cosmetic procedures
  • Restorative dentistry such as fillings if there is no pain
  • Extractions of teeth that are not causing pain
  • Dental cleanings, x-rays, and routine checkups. 

Please note, while your dentist in Reno is here to help you in any way possible, there are some limitations as to what we can and cannot do at this time. The best thing to do if you think you’re experiencing a dental emergency is to call your dentist. 

*As information about COVID-19 changes regularly both at the state level and on a national scale, please check your local area for the most recent updates regarding dental care.

How Long Does Novocaine Last?

If you’ve ever had a dental procedure such as a filling or root canal, chances are you’ve experienced the odd sensation of novocaine numbness. While novocaine can help you not feel anything during treatment, the side effects can be annoying. But just how long do you have to deal with not being able to feel your face? Your dentist in Reno has the answer. 

What is Novocaine? 

Novocaine is a local anesthetic that dentists administer with a tiny needle. It’s used to numb the tooth and area where your dentist is treating and is really good at making almost any dental treatment comfortable and pain-free. Essentially, novocaine blocks our nerves from sending pain signals to the brain so we don’t feel a thing. 

Side Effects of Novocaine

The most common side effect of novocaine is the unmistakable numbness in your face, lips, or even tongue. More on that in a bit. But there are lesser-known side effects that you should know about including: 

  • Swelling
  • Dizziness
  • Headache
  • Muscle Twitching 

There are also some very rare, yet very serious, possible side effects if someone is allergic to novocaine such as difficulty breathing, irregular heartbeat, itchiness, and anaphylaxis. If you experience any of these side effects, go to the nearest emergency room and notify your dentist in Reno

How Long Does Novocaine Last? 

As promised, let’s talk more about the most common side effect of novocaine — numbness. Naturally, you will experience some numbness when you receive novocaine. But you may also experience numbness long after you leave the dental chair. While the duration of the numbness depends on a variety of things such as the individual person and how much is used, usually you’ll feel numb anywhere from one to five hours. 

Are There Ways to Make the Numbness Wear Off Faster?

We understand that the numbness associated with novocaine can be annoying. After all, you can’t speak properly, you have trouble chewing, and everything you drink seems to drip out of your mouth. But personally, we think the comfort you have during your dental treatment is worth this temporary annoyance. However, if you’re someone who finds the lingering numbness unbearable, there may be some things you can try to help it go away faster. But be sure to talk with your dentist in Reno before trying any of the tips below. 

  • Get Moving. One way to help burn off the novocaine and regain feeling is to increase blood flow. And the best way to do that is to get moving. Go for a walk, play a sport, or take a bike ride or easy jog.
  • Apply Heat. Another way to increase blood flow directly to the affected area and, in turn, ease the numbness is to apply heat. A moist, warm compress may do the trick. Just make sure not to apply heat directly to the skin. 
  • Massage. Lastly, gently massaging the cheek or area where you feel numb can also increase blood flow and decrease numbness. However, don’t try this if you have pain or swelling. Also, don’t massage the treated area directly and always wash your hands before touching your face, lips, or mouth. 

Please note that, unfortunately, there is no official way to make the weird feeling of numbness disappear quickly, but some patients have found the above methods helpful. 

The numbness associated with novocaine is temporary, but your dental health is with you for a lifetime. Don’t let a fear of pain or discomfort keep you from getting the treatment you need. There are many ways we can help minimize pain, fear, and anxiety. Just talk to us, we’re here to help! 

The Keto Diet & Your Oral Health

March is National Nutrition Month and is hosted every year by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. It strives to bring awareness to the importance of how eating right can help us live longer, healthier lives. When some people consider how nutrition plays a role in their overall health, they may turn to the latest in diet trends. The Keto Diet is no exception. But even though the Keto Diet can help some individuals lose weight, your dentist in Reno knows that there may be some underlying oral health concerns associated with it. 

What is the Keto Diet? 

The basis of the Keto Diet involves decreasing the intake of carbohydrates and increasing more high-fat foods, which would cause the body to enter something ketosis. Ketosis occurs when the body burns off fat instead of glucose, including glucose from carbs. While this can help shed the pounds, it also produces three ketones as a result. These three ketones are acetoacetate, beta-hydroxybutyrate, and acetone. The latter, acetone, is what may be concerning to your dentist in Reno

Keto Diet & Bad Breath

Acetone is something that can’t be used to store energy, so our bodies release it by either urination or through the lungs. When it’s expelled through the lungs, people may start to experience bad breath or halitosis. This foul odor can be combated through good oral hygiene habits such as brushing your teeth and tongue and flossing daily. Chewing gum and drinking plenty of water throughout the day may also help alleviate bad breath caused by the Keto Diet. Additionally, those who are committed to the Keto Diet over a long period of time may become “keto-adapted,” which means the bad breath will go away. 

Oral Health Benefits of the Keto Diet

Now, before you bail on the Keto Diet for fear of bad breath, your dentist in Reno wants you to know that there are actually also some potential oral health benefits behind the diet. Carbohydrates contain a lot of sugars, which are one of the worst things for your teeth. When we eat foods that are loaded with carbs, the bacteria in our mouths are essentially given a free meal. As a side effect, these bacteria release acid which can damage tooth enamel and increase the risk of decay. Therefore, reducing the number of carbs you consume, and the sugars found in them, can benefit your oral health. In fact, some research shows that decreasing carbohydrate intake can lower the likelihood of cavities and even gum disease by 50% or more. 

Everyone is Different

The truth is, there are pros and cons to the Keto Diet as it relates to oral health and overall health. It’s important to know that what may work for one person may actually be harmful to another. So before you embark on a new diet, make sure you talk with your doctor to be sure that your dietary plans are appropriate for you and your body. 

When it comes to oral health, make sure to talk with your dentist in Reno and your dental hygienist about any changes to health history and even dietary changes. The truth is, things that affect your overall health can also affect your oral health and vice versa, so don’t be afraid to share any changes with your dental team at every appointment so that you’re sure to get the best care that’s most appropriate for you. 

Bad Breath Remedies

Bad breath is an incredibly common concern for many Americans. In fact, according to Medical News Today, bad breath affects an estimated 25% of the population. Even though there are various things that can cause bad breath, there are a few that concern your dentist in Reno. The truth is, several causes of bad breath are directly related to the overall health of your mouth and some of the problems linked to bad breath can be serious. Because of this, it’s important to first understand what causes bad breath before you can determine how to fix it. 

What Causes Bad Breath?

As we’ve mentioned, bad breath can be caused by any number of things, some concerning and some not. For example, bad breath can be a result of what we eat or drink such as garlic or coffee. Bad breath caused by foods or drinks usually isn’t something to worry about as it’s quickly alleviated by brushing or chewing sugar-free gum. However, when bad breath is chronic and can’t be tied to a fragrant food, it’s typically a sign of oral health problem.

Why is Bad Breath Bad? 

Bad breath that doesn’t go away is most often the result of too much bacteria lingering around the mouth. When bacteria build up in the mouth it increases the likelihood of decay, cavities, and gum disease. Gum disease, in particular, is an infection that can lead to tooth loss as well as other problems throughout the body such as heart disease, increased risk of stroke, and respiratory complications. Any sign of a lingering odor in your mouth is a clue that you should see your dentist in Reno

Bad Breath Remedies

We understand that bad breath can be embarrassing, but there are things you can do to treat it.

  1. Drink Water. Drinking water throughout the day will help keep your mouth moist and saliva flowing, both of which are important to neutralize acid, wash away bacteria, and keep breath fresh. If we don’t drink enough water or suffer from dry mouth, bacteria will flourish. The result is bad breath. 
  1. Have Good Oral Hygiene Habits. You’ve heard us say it a million times – having good oral hygiene can go a long way in keeping your mouth healthy and your breath fresh. Make sure that you’re brushing and flossing every day to remove any food particles and bacteria that have built up throughout the day. Don’t forget to gently scrub your tongue as those tiny bumps make perfect places for bacteria to hide.  
  1. See Your Dentist in Reno. Even though properly brushing and flossing every day can help protect teeth and breath, it’s still important to see your dentist at least twice a year for professional cleanings that remove plaque and tartar your regular toothbrush just can’t get. These visits are also crucial to catching any oral health problems, such as gum disease, early when treatment is more successful. 

If you suffer from bad breath and you’re ready to get rid of it once and for all, schedule an appointment with your dentist. Your dental team will help diagnose the underlying cause of your bad breath and talk with you about the best way to treat it.

The Oral Health Dangers of Cough Medicine

During this time of the year, it seems as if everyone we encounter is sneezing, sniffling, or coughing. While we do as much as we can to avoid getting a cold, sometimes we just get sick. When we do get a case of the coughs we just want it to go away, so we will try almost anything to make it stop. Most commonly, we’ll suck on cough drops and take cough syrup throughout the day. Even though these medications can alleviate our symptoms, your dentist in Reno wants you to know that the common ingredients in cough medicine do pose risks to oral health.    

Concerning Ingredients

Many cough syrups and cough drops contain ingredients that can cause damage to teeth. More specifically, those medications containing sucrose, high fructose corn syrup, citric acid, and alcohol are the most concerning to your Reno dentist. The truth is, these ingredients can make us feel better during the course of a cold but can have long-term negative side effects on oral health. 

Sugars

We’ve all heard Mary Poppins sing about how a spoonful of sugar will help the medicine go down, and she was right. Most cough syrups and cough drops contain sugar to help mask their naturally bad and bitter taste. But just like sugary snacks and foods, these sugars can be dangerous to teeth. When we introduce sugars into our mouths we can essentially create a feeding frenzy for bacteria. These bacteria will feed on sugar and then release an acidic byproduct. This acid will wear away tooth enamel and increases the risk of decay and cavities.  

Alcohol

Besides sugar, some cold medicines contain small amounts of alcohol. Alcohol is known to cause dry mouth, even in smaller quantities. Normally, our mouths produce a lot of saliva — between 0.5 and 1.5 liters every day. This saliva helps neutralize dangerous acids and reduce the number of bacteria in the mouth. However, when alcohol causes dry mouth, saliva production slows and acids and bacteria stick around. This can increase the likelihood of decay. 

Feel Better While Protecting Teeth

Even though cold medicine can increase the risk of tooth decay and cavities, you shouldn’t suffer through a cold by not taking it. However, your dentist in Reno my recommend: 

  • Taking a pill instead of liquid medication. Liquid medication can basically coat your mouth with sugar and alcohol, while pills greatly reduce how much contact your mouth has with those ingredients. 
  • Taking cold medication with food. When we eat we tend to produce more saliva which, as we know, will help wash away sugar and alcohol before they have a chance to cause damage.  
  • Brushing your teeth after you take medicine, especially before bed. Taking medicine then brushing your teeth will help reduce the amount of sugar and alcohol left in the mouth. This is particularly important before bed. Taking cough syrup before bed without brushing your teeth after means the ingredients are lingering in the mouth all night long.  

While we truly hope our patients and neighbors stay healthy all year round if you do happen to get sick, try taking medicine using the tips above to protect your smile.

Why Do I Bite My Lips, Cheeks, and Tongue?

Biting your lips, cheeks, or tongue is a common habit for many people. While it may seem relatively harmless, biting the soft tissues in our mouths can lead to serious and painful problems. But like any habit, it can be difficult to stop biting your lips, cheeks, or tongue. Join your Reno dentist as we share a bit about why biting is bad and what you can do to break the habit. 

Why We Bite
There are several possible explanations behind why we bite our lips, cheeks, or tongue. Occasionally, stress or nerves can be to blame. If you’re someone who chronically bites, this is most likely the case. But there are things you can try to help you stop. First, try to become more aware of when you bite. Maybe it’s during times of high stress or perhaps when you’re concentrating really hard. Once you know when you’re more likely to bite, you can start to work on consciously recognizing it and stopping it. 

Other times, biting a lip, cheek, or tongue is purely accidental and can happen while we’re chewing or even during a sneeze. Even though these accidental bites can be painful and may even bleed, they’re usually not something to be concerned about and should heal on their own. However, there are some people who seem to bite their lip, cheek, or tongue accidentally a lot. If this is the case, it could be a sign of something a bit more serious such as a bad bite or TMJ disorder. Both of these dental concerns can mean that your top teeth don’t line up properly with your bottom teeth which makes it really easy for an accidental chomp to your cheek, lip, or tongue to occur. Your dentist in Reno will be able to help you determine if this is the case for you.  

Why is Biting Bad? 
First and foremost, biting the soft tissues of the mouth hurts, and the pain can last for a few days after the initial bite due to the sore that pops up as a result of the trauma. These sores that develop after a bite can become infected if they aren’t cleaned. Additionally, chronic biters can suffer from inflammation, swelling, pain, and redness. But that’s not all. If a bad bite or TMJ disorder is playing a role in your biting, you may also experience the common symptoms that accompany those problems including headaches and jaw pain.  

How Do You Stop Biting? 
Treatment of lip, cheek, or tongue biting depends on what’s causing it in the first place. If biting is a nervous habit, try to work with yourself to consciously stop it. More severe cases can benefit from behavioral therapy. If you suspect that your chronic accidental biting is because of a bad bite, schedule an appointment with your dentist in Reno. Your dental team is trained to help identify a bad bite and can suggest the most appropriate treatment for your specific case so you can stop biting once and for all.

What Can Be Done About Teeth Stained From Tobacco Use

Tobacco use can increase your risk for a number of different health problems. When you limit the discussion to your oral health, you can still find several issues (oral cancer, tooth decay, gum disease) you can be more likely to suffer due to tobacco use. One hard to miss issue is the effect on your smile. Tobacco products can leave you with stains that dull your smile, and leave it with an unflattering yellowish quality. To eliminate the stains that have built up, you can discuss cosmetic treatment with your dentist. A professional whitening treatment will break up accumulated stains in your teeth, which can bring them back to a whiter appearance. Continue reading “What Can Be Done About Teeth Stained From Tobacco Use”

Do You Have An Extra Bone In Your Mouth?

tori1

You may have an extra bone in your mouth and not know it. If you do it is called a torus–a harmless, slow-growing bone. Tori is plural for torus. Tori vary in size and are often found via dental x-rays. Because Tori are harmless and usually don’t cause pain or other problems, they often go unnoticed. Do you have an extra bone in your mouth?

Continue reading “Do You Have An Extra Bone In Your Mouth?”

Are You At Risk For Cavities?

toothdecayaheadCavities are most common in children and young adults, but they can develop at any age. According to statistics, 92 percent of adults between the ages of 20 and 64 have experienced cavities in their permanent teeth. As you can see cavities are common. One of the major reasons there is so much tooth decay is because our diets overwhelmingly consist of sugars and starches. Lack of proper oral hygiene is another reason. Are some people at a higher risk for cavities than others? And if so who? Are you at risk for cavities?

Continue reading “Are You At Risk For Cavities?”